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Protecting Kids From Water & Drowning Hazards

Medically reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD

Water safety is important at any age, but especially if you have babies or toddlers. Drowning can happen very quickly and in less than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of water. So, filled bathtubs, swimming pools, wading pools, hot tubs, and even buckets of water and sinks can be dangerous.

To protect kids around water:


  • Never leave a baby unattended in the bath. If you must answer the phone or door, don't rely on an older sibling to watch the baby. Wrap your baby in a towel and bring them with you.
  • Never leave a bathtub, bucket, or other container filled with any amount of water or other liquid unattended.
  • Never use a bathtub seat or supporting ring without constant adult supervision. The seat can overturn or a baby may slip out into the water.
  • Install a toilet-lid locking device and keep bathroom doors closed at all times. Or you may want to install a doorknob cover.


  • If you have a pool on your property, install fencing at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) high on all sides of the pool, as well as a self-closing and self-latching gate with a lock that's out of a child's reach.
  • Consider installing a pool alarm or cover, but know that these are not substitutes for fencing and adult supervision.
  • Remove toys from the pool when kids are finished swimming to prevent them from trying to recover them when unsupervised.
  • Inflatable flotation devices such as vests, water wings, rafts, and tubes can give a false sense of security in the pool and aren’t effective protection from drowning. Never use these as a substitute for constant adult supervision.
  • Never let your child use mermaid tails or fins in the pool. These kinds of toys can make it hard to swim and lead to drowning.
  • Dump out all water from a wading pool when you're finished using it.
  • Remove any ladders from an above-ground pool when not in use.
  • Any babysitters should be comfortable supervising your child in the pool and understand your pool rules.

Be Prepared

  • Learn CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.
  • You and any caregivers should have these numbers handy in case of an emergency:
    • toll-free poison-control number: 1-800-222-1222
    • doctor's number
    • parents' work numbers and other contact information
    • neighbor's or nearby relative's number (if you need someone to watch other children in an emergency)
  • Make a first-aid kit and keep emergency instructions inside.
Medically reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: August 2021